November 16, 2009
Abram I. Bohrer

A father and son heading to Indiana on a hunting trip were killed Saturday when their single-engine airplane crashed in a dense forest shortly after takeoff from the Woodbine Municipal Airport.

Thaddeus Lazowski, 53, and his son, also named Thaddeus, 12, of the South Seaville section of Dennis Township, died after the father’s Piper Arrow crashed for unknown reasons about two miles from the airport, State Police said.

Witnesses saw the small white plane flying low and going in circles above Petersburg Road before dropping into the tree line about a half-mile behind the witnesses’ homes.

“Did you ever hear a lawnmower crunch a piece of string? It sounded like that,” said neighbor Jim Burnett, who witnessed the accident and ran to the scene, where he found father and son without a pulse.

Witnesses and the airport’s manager said the plane was the only one to leave the Woodbine airport on Saturday, when heavy weather from the northeaster had subsided but visibility was low and the weather was overcast.

Investigators are trying to determine why the airplane crashed, although the National Transportation Safety Board often takes more than a year to release a probable cause report.

State Police Sgt. Stephen Jones said the plane crashed at a steep angle and most of the plane and the shattered debris were in a confined area of the woods. However, a wing of the plane was found more than a football field away, he said.


The airplane, which was registered to Lazowski, left Runway 3-1 at about 11 a.m., with a stock of hunting supplies, State Police said.

It was unclear if Lazowski filed a flight plan report.

The pilot, who stored his plane at an airport hangar, fueled up Saturday morning. There was a 300-foot “ceiling” — or distance to the clouds — and visibility was two to three miles, said Wayne Rumble, Woodbine Municipal Airport manager.

“I was a little surprised when I saw his airplane out there. I figured he was fueling it up for a trip tomorrow,” Rumble said. “He got fuel and he taxied out. I glanced out and saw him taking off the runway.”

To fly in those weather conditions, a pilot would have to be instrument rated, Rumble said.